Sie = ?

How do you know what to translate "sie" into? How do you know when to translate to "sie" instead of some other word?

December 17, 2011


Is there any difference between sie or Sie? The first word in German doesn't have to be capitalized. Am I right? So sie means she and so Sie refers to they?You can correct me if I am wrong.

Sie (capitalized) is a formal 'you' like usted in Spanish. It is used for people you address as Herr or Frau, i.e, it shows formality and politeness. While du is the informal you like the tú in Spanish. However, to differentiate between sie (she) and sie (they), it is really up to context. There is no sure shot of telling either apart.

For example:

> sie haben eine Zeitung. [They have a newspaper.] (Pay attention to the verb here; usually German verbs that end in (-en) are used for multiple persons like trinken (drink), essen (eat), lesen(read))

> sie sind Männer. [They are men.] (The German verb 'sein' (to be) also signifies which 'sie' we are dealing with to some extent. As it is sind in the case of multiple persons or when a formal Sie is used but ist in the case of a singular sie (she))

> sie ist eine Frau. [She is a woman.]

> sie trinkt die Milch. [She drinks the Milk.]

It's also "she", and you'll notice that in the conjugation of the verb

If the verb is singular, it is "she"

Sie can be "you", "she", "you all" or "they".

When it is "she", the verb changes. So "She has" is "Sie hat".

For all other forms (you/y'all/they) it's the full verb like "She haben". When it's at the beginning of a sentence, there is no way to tell which one it is (and it appears duolingo will accept any) other than context.

@pooie: I fear you then really have to guess by the context.

"Sie haben ein Buch." can mean "You have a book." or "They have a book.". That only depends on the context.

The same with "Er sieht sie.": This can mean both, "He sees her." and "He sees them.".

Well Sie either means "they" or refers to a person formally. You should be able to tell between the two translations by the context of the sentence.

I am also very confused by this. "Sie haben den Apfel"... Does that mean "You (formal) have the apple" or "They have the apple"? How can you tell which one it is? What am I missing?

Also what about "Er sieht sie"? How does one know if it's "He sees her" or "He sees them"? Is anyone else having trouble with this? I would so appreciate any help or insight with this. :)

i think we're supposed to take the cue from the verb (haben). haben therefore changes the meaning of sie to they?

You should be able to tell by the conjugation of the verb in the sentence. Example: Essen (to eat); Sie isst (She eats). Sie essen (They eat).

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